Max throws a cup at me and screams “I want juice!” Ethan climbs onto the kitchen counter and stands on his tippy toes, rummaging through the snack bin. Jamis says, “Mom, Mom, did you hear me?” for the third time. And then, “I asked you three times.” Excuse me, I think to myself, doesn’t that make for six requests? For the same thing?
The phone rings. I answer it. It’s my husband on the line. He needs something, too. I pull Ethan off the counter and walk out of the kitchen, down the hall, trying to find some quiet to hear his request. But they follow, one by one by one.
I glare at the kids to be quiet. I sit at the computer and push the puppy off my lap. In my mind I am pleading for someone to waltz through the front door and take care of everyone’s wants and needs, including my inner desperate plea for peace and quiet.
I’ve blocked them out while on the phone and they’ve finally dispersed from my immediate area. However, they are in no less trouble than they were before. The baby has pushed the stool back to the counter and again teeters on the edge. Jamis has disappeared, which sounds good, if I knew he wasn’t actually doing something somewhere that he shouldn’t be doing without asking, like sneaking candy, playing that damn Pokemon game again, or jumping on the trampoline. Max has wrestled the juice jug from the refrigerator and is in mid-pour, or rather, mid-disaster.
And there it is–my life in mid-disaster. All the time.
The doorbell rings while I’m drafting and emailing an invoice to one of my husband’s clients. It is not my rescue. Just FedEx, or UPS, delivering another large box to our house. We are full of them. We are so full of them that we are quite friendly with the delivery people. I figure they must be annoyed with us. I am annoyed with us. Too many boxes. Too much clutter. I can’t clear a path through the house any more than I can clear a path through my mind.
I am exhausted by the living of life.
I get off the phone. I push the package to the corner of the hall. I get juice for Max and a granola bar for Ethan. I walk outside and find Jamis laying on the trampoline, the Nintendo game in hand, and a tootsie roll tucked inside his cheek. The dog follows.
I walk inside and Ethan’s got my phone. I take it away and he throws himself to the ground. Max messes with the buttons on the tv. I turn it on and run and hide. The dog follows.
I have to pee. The dog follows.
I settle the kids in bed. The dog is happy by my side on the couch or on the bed. I take three deep breaths and listen to the quiet. My husband finally walks in the back door. He has not seen me or the children since the morning before. He will sit down on the computer soon to keep working. But first he tells me everything about his day. Everything that he still has to do. Tonight. Tomorrow. The next day.
I don’t say anything. I am his only colleague and all I can do at this time of day is give my presence. My ear. But I am elsewhere. Thinking about all the times I yelled at my kids. And the way I feel immune to myself and how I hate it. Thinking about all the times I wanted to cry for all the things I had to do. The fights I had to break up. The snacks I had to dole out. The trash on the floor and in my mind. All of it. I’m tired. I’ve exhausted myself.
Everyone needs me, I think. All of the time. I am so needed.
I know I am lucky. Ultimately so very, very lucky. But a lot of the time I just feel like I’m going to fail them. And myself. And life, in general, as if it required for my college degree. Life, on the 400-level. This course is a bitch and I’m sick of pop-quizzes.motherhood, Sarah Writes